Second Realm

Eric P. Rhodes, Artist


Balancing Art, Technology, and Humanity

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In December 2007, as a young designer working in the book publishing industry, I coined a term that would come to define my approach to technology: technourishment. Back then, the concept was simple (perhaps naively so) – it was about the act of nourishing technology, or the state of being nourished by technology. My iPod, iPhone, and iMac were prime examples. They were new tools that enhanced my life, simplifying tasks and connecting me to the broader world in ways I never imagined. But as the years passed, the definition evolved, mirroring the rapid transformation of technology itself.

“As we navigate this ever-changing landscape, let’s remember that at the heart of every technological advancement is the human spirit – curious, creative, and ever-evolving.”

A Prelude to Change

Reflecting on my experiences during that pivotal time in the book publishing industry, it’s clear that the seeds of technourishment were already being sown. In my post, “Art is Evolving, and Artists Must Adapt,” I discussed the transformative impact of blogging and social media on publishing. The industry was at a crossroads, much like the broader art world today. Authors, like contemporary artists, grappled with integrating technology into their practice.

Fears of stolen ideas and eroded creativity were rampant. Yet, those who embraced this new digital frontier found that it didn’t detract from their art – it enhanced it. Ebooks, audiobooks, and podcasts weren’t just new formats; they were new avenues for connection and expression. This era underscored a vital lesson: technology, when harnessed thoughtfully, could amplify the human aspect of art.

Technourishment Today

Fast forward to the present, and technourishment has grown into a personal philosophy that champions the mindful integration of technology. It’s no longer just about the tools we use but how we use them to enrich the human experience. My career in user experience, customer experience, and service design, where a human-centered perspective was paramount, profoundly influenced this philosophy.

I’ve consistently prioritized the human element in technology throughout my career. Whether it was enhancing customer experiences for major brands like Twitter, leading service design sprints at Google, or innovating at the intersection of art and blockchain technology, the core principle of technourishment has been a guiding force. It’s about ensuring that technology serves to enhance, not overshadow, our human experiences and interactions.

This journey through my career has reinforced the belief that technourishment isn’t just a personal philosophy but a professional practice. It manifests in creating digital experiences that aren’t only functional and aesthetically pleasing but also emotionally resonant and deeply human.

The challenge of Zombie Futurism in art is a prime example of where the human-centered approach of technourishment is vital. As we combat the superficial application of technology in art, we must remember the lessons learned from human-centered design – focusing on empathy, engagement, and meaningful experiences.

The Future of Technourishment

Looking ahead, technourishment stands as a beacon in an increasingly digital world. It’s a call to artists, writers, designers, and creators of all kinds to engage with technology consciously. As we navigate this ever-changing landscape, let’s remember that at the heart of every technological advancement is the human spirit – curious, creative, and ever-evolving.

In embracing technourishment, we don’t just adapt to the digital age; we thrive in it, ensuring that our art and humanity grow in harmony.